Richard Digs Deep
Richard Thompson @ Old Fruit market Glasgow 15th September 2007
I enjoyed seeing Richard, who recorded so many unforgettable folk/rock songs in the 70s, such as his well loved 'Bright Lights' album with Linda, back on form rocking with the songs from his new 'Sweet Warrior' Album. The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow's Merchant City area, is a recently refurbished venue and strung with coloured fairy lights along it's wooden balcony, offered an old-worldly feel. Richard 'digs deep' and always keeps it real, with expressive guitar and voice and lyrics that draw colourful stories, characters and emotive melodies. He eschews the 'commercial' and has always sought his own musical path. He played with Fairport Convention in '67 and took folk into an edgier folk-rock sound. Richard explored religious themes in the 80s and eventually settled in LA, where he re-married and continued his furious output of outstanding songs.
Richard also enjoys to rock it up and started his set with the full band, then took it jazzier, and next offering his acoustic songs - Persuasion, I Still Dream, his expressive guitar accompanying. His guitar and voice ache and sweep, then charge with clear anger, hurt or compassion.
His 'Sweet Parlour Ballads' album last year offered a stripped-down acoustic sound of more quirky, slightly too toned down a sound. His latest album, Sweet Warrior, sees Richard back with a full band and returning to his rockier side – with songs written about terrorist threats and the Iraq war. The band of top musicians includes Danny Thompson on double bass who has toured with Richard before, and provides a powerful backdrop. Pete Zorn on great form on the bass flute, sax and guitar, and Michael Jerome tight on drums.
The best part of the set for me were his cautionary tales from the new Sweet Warrior Album – Needles and Thread, I'll Never give It Up, Take care the Road you Choose, Mr Stupid, Dad's Gonna Kill Me (about Iraq war) Bad Monkey. And a new classic song - 'Guns Are the Tongues.' He also performed his memorable Wall of Death. Richard is both humble and quick-witted, an entrancing combination. He is one of the few music legends, voted by Rolling Stone one of the top 20 guitarists - like a stately sailing ship, full of impressive textures and rich mahogany, yet also forceful and passionate. Back in the 70s I was entranced listening to his lyrics and songs – and it is truly wonderful, while he has a full back catalogue, that he doesn't rely on this, but is still as fresh and new as ever.